Right about this time of year, the gardening world usually makes a well-deserved fuss about California wildflowers and grasses, and planting native plants that can thrive in arid conditions.
But with the worst drought we’ve seen in recorded history continuing on, maybe it’s time to look at a different way of adding color to your garden: Succulent plants. (A brief note here: all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.)
Succulents are so called because of their fleshy leaves, which can retain and collect water from mist and dew. They have surprisingly colorful blooms, and if you’ve ever just looked at a cactus plant and thought, “Enh, that’s just green,” well, get ready to be surprised.
Flowering succulents have blooms that typically wither and die reasonably quickly, but when they do bloom, get ready for some serious color power. We love the Rock Purslane, which produces blooms that last all season and range in color from lavender to a powerful hot pink.
Or you could find a succulent like Sempervivum (its name comes from the Latin for “forever living”), which boasts some crazy deep reds and greens even when it’s not blooming.
Morning Light Echeveria is one of our favorites for its gorgeous shape and its graduating purple shades and its compact profile. Get enough of these and you might end up with a veritable carpet of these beautiful colors.
Still not feeling like you have enough sunshine yellow in the summer months? Consider something like the Golden Jade plant, which, like all jade plants, grows like crazy, but adds a curious lemony tint to any outdoor space, as compared to its deeper-green siblings.
For that matter, even though all succulents could easily be lumped into the green color family, a beautifully unexpected thing happens when you group a bunch of them together. Suddenly, you begin to see that no one green is truly like the other.
And, with many of us giving up our lawns in favor of drought-resistant landscaping, we can take all the green–both color-wheel-oriented and sustainably-speaking–we can manage.
So go with the drought-resistant succulent for part of your garden this summer. You won’t be sorry with the results.
For more tips on gardening with succulents and how to care for them, have a look at Mountain Crest Gardens’ great tip sheet. And don’t forget to add even more color to your outdoor space, with our made-for-sun Outdoors line.